Occupational Therapists Provide Help with Assistive Technology

July 20, 2016

This article is by Lauren Tappan.

Here are another few suggestions for low vision users of Assistive Technology. I recently was able to work with an OT from Therapeutic Solutions. Therapeutic Solutions is located in the Raleigh-Durham area. These OT visits were paid for by Medicare. I found the low vision OT very helpful and supportive. She was able to work with me on updating my IPad to make it visually, user friendly. I had many questions about the KNFB Reader. Because of her help, I am able to use a KNFB Reader to download books.
I now use my Google app to verbally dictate web searches. I am able to use the zoom feature on the IPad, which allows me to read and hear information in my email program. I was able to find short cuts for deleting emails in my email program and I am able to dictate responses to my emails.
I have also been able to download the BARD app. BARD is a free app service with the North Carolina Library for the Blind, which allows me to download books from their library. Because of her help, I was able to find an app that gives me updated flight information when I’m travelling.
She also encouraged me to buy a new pair of light sensitive glasses, which also screen Blue Light. These glasses have been very helpful for me in navigating on new side walks and streets, etc. You can find these glasses from Maxiaids. She was also able to help me with special techniques for the use of various equipment’s in our kitchen and laundry room, which has made use of these appliances easier for me.
For all of these reasons, I highly recommend low vision users of Assistive Technology equipment to investigate if there are low vision OT’s (Occupational Therapists) in your area. If you contact Therapeutic Solutions in the Raleigh-Durham area, they might be able to locate other OT’s in an area near you.

Bisphosphonate side effect: AMD

July 16, 2016

Bisphosphonates, which are typically used to prevent osteoporosis, are some of the most prescribed drugs. They are known to increase the risk of inflammatory eye diseases such as scleritis, uveitis, and optic neuritis, and their pro-inflammatory properties may account for this increased risk as well as the flu-like symptoms that have been reported as adverse effects of their use.

The appearance of flu-like symptoms after use of the injected bisphosphonate zolendronic acid (Reclast/Novartis) has been attributed to the release of inflammatory mediators such as C-reactive protein. This common marker of systemic inflammation has been associated with coronary artery disease and implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), including its neovascular (wet) form.   –

See more at: http://www.hcplive.com/medical-news/oral-bisphosphonate-use-poses-risk-of-wet-age-related-macular-degeneration#sthash.7J2ZfBgI.dpuf

Bionic eye restores man’s vision

July 3, 2016

This article is from http://www.wkyc.com/

Steve McMillin learned at age 32 he had Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disease that would stop his retinas from functioning. By 49, he was completely blind.

He kept up to date on new research emerging and heard about the bionic retina, a retinal prosthesis device that sends electrical impulses to the remaining retinal cells and restores limited vision patterns.

“They take the lens off the top of your eye, remove the vitrious fluid and install a six-by-ten grid of electrodes in your eye,” said McMillin.

Last June, Steve became the twentieth patient in the US to receive the device when he had his surgery at Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute

He can see vague, black and white images.

“So you can tell, well, there’s the road, there’s a driveway, there’s a mailbox, there’s a shrub. Am I veering off track? It’s another tool in the toolbox and, boy, it’s a big tool,” McMillin says.

When asked what the most important thing he saw after ten years of blindness was, he replied, “To go out in the moonlight and see your wife’s face.”

Read more at on.wkyc.com/29e6JTB.


What a Computer Can Do for People with Low Vision

June 24, 2016

Your change in vision status is a good time to rethink how technology can help you maintain your independence. An accessible computer can be one of your most valuable tools. Consider just a few of the tasks of daily living you will be able to accomplish independently using a personal computer:

  • Keeping in Touch
  • Keeping up with the News
  • Handling Finances
  • Shopping
  • Reading
  • Saving Money
  • Staying Entertained
  • Reading your mail and other important documents

Computers use special programs, operating systems, and applications, to perform tasks as varied as solving advanced mathematics problems to displaying your grandchild’s latest artwork on a screen. Though it might seem that the majority of a computer’s functionality relies on vision, the truth is that text lies behind most of what a computer does, from calculations to web pages. And since text can be output in an audible format, under the right circumstances and with the right training, computers are actually highly accessible to people with visual impairments. Think of it this way: When you type an “A” on a computer keyboard, you can either see that letter show up on the screen or hear it read aloud.

For more info:


iPad Pro & the KNFB Reader

June 14, 2016

The following is by Lauren Tappan.

  I am a low-vision user of the iPad Pro. I have found the iPad Pro to be extremely helpful when traveling. It’s nice to be able to check on departure and arrival times for flights and be able to read books and articles while I am waiting for the plane. It’s also been very nice to be able to continue to receive and send out emails while I’m away from my stand alone computer. I use the Zoom and dictation features on my iPad Pro, because of the Zoom and Dictation features I am able to navigate in different settings.
     Recently, I downloaded the KNFB reader app. The KNFB reader batch mode has allowed me to take photos and save at least 10-20 pages of a book or article that I will read at a later time. This has been an invaluable resource.
     It has taken some time to slowly incorporate this digital information into my life. As an example, I’ve saved several important palms and quotes for years. I’ve had these messages in my office and have not been able to read them without taking them off the wall and reading them with my stand alone CCTV. For this reason, I haven’t read these palms and quotes in a long time. Yesterday, I decided to take this important text off my wall and download it to the KNFB reader app. So now, I am able to have this text read to me whenever I’m interested. This may not seem like much to many but to me it means a lot to be able to read this text whenever interested.
    When we had a several hour wait at the airport recently, I was able to use the KNFB reader to read several Wallstreet Journal articles. This was also an invaluable use of my time.
    I strongly recommend low vision users of digital devices check out the KNFB reader.

High-priced drugs used to treat diabetic macular edema not cost-effective

June 12, 2016

The anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs ranibizumab and aflibercept, used to treat vision loss from diabetic macular edema (DME), and approximately 20 to 30 times more expensive than bevacizumab, are not cost-effective for treatment of DME compared to bevacizumab unless their prices decrease substantially, according to a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology.

Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) medicines have revolutionized DME treatment. A recent comparing anti-VEGF agents for patients with decreased from DME found that at 1 year aflibercept (2.0 mg) achieved better visual outcomes than repackaged (compounded) (1.25 mg) or ranibizumab (0.3 mg); the worse the starting vision, the greater the treatment benefit with aflibercept.

These agents also vary substantially in cost. On the basis of 2015 costs, aflibercept was $1,850, ranibizumab, $1,170, and repackaged (compounded) bevacizumab, approximately $60 per dose. Considering that these medicines may be given 9 to 11 times in the first year of treatment and, on average, 17 times during 5 years, total costs can be substantial. In 2010, when these intravitreous agents were being used predominantly for , ophthalmologic use of VEGF therapy cost approximately $2 billion or one-sixth of the entire Medicare Part B drug budget. In 2013, Medicare Part B expenditures for aflibercept and ranibizumab alone totaled $2.5 billion.

For more info:


Japan to begin transplants using donor iPS cells

June 12, 2016

This news is from Lauren Tappan:

Four Japanese institutions will collaborate on transplanting tissue grown from induced pluripotent stem cells taken from donors into patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration, a hard-to-cure eye disease.

The initiative, announced Monday, will break new ground in that the cost of transplanting iPS-derived tissue will be significantly reduced by using stocked cells provided by donors, instead of using the patients’ own cells as in a previous case involving a sufferer of the same disease.

Under the partnership agreed on May 30, Kyoto University will provide iPS cells resistant to immunological rejection in the treatment and the government-affiliated Riken research institute will grow them into retinal cells. Osaka University and the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital will implant these cells into patients as early as the first half of 2017.

The cost is approx. $1 million.


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